I only know me through him. I watch myself as him. And he sees me like no other. His eyes burn. I feel them in me. He explodes from within, hoping that I will see him as he bubbles just under the surface. It’s for me. Every flicker and glance skips my skin. He seeks something just as deep within me. I give only to receive. I want his love.
I step on the train. All eyes find me. They travel on me. They travel over me, then on to my options. They don’t move their bags to their laps; they place their hand over them for protection. They’ve seen people like me before. They worry. I see myself as they see me. I am nothing.
His hands feel me like I am a mystery; he wants to know my every fold and curve. The curtains are drawn. The light is on. He goes slowly; time is in abundance. I am worth it. I am everything. I am the stars above us and there are stars in my vision as he tells me what he’s going to do next.
I squeeze in and out of rush hour. Everyone is so quick to push, so quick to move. They fit together like a poorly constructed puzzle. I weave my hand through the crowd to find purchase on the pole as the train jars forward. My hand holds on for life. I don’t want to touch anyone. Arms move away from mine. I know what they know. I do not fit in this puzzle. I cannot fit in this puzzle. I can never fit. It is my fault. The businessman behind me presses against my back. His hand is colder than the steel of the pole. I don’t fit. I don’t want to be here.
He knows me. I feel it in the path his mouth takes, he touches every spot that tingles. His hand slides under me to pull me up. He moves me like I am nothing, cradles me like I am everything. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else. I am wanted. I want.
They are designed to hate me. I see it in the movies and in television. I see it in magazines. I am not okay. I am to be seen. I am ignored. I am to be looked at. I am humiliated. You may touch. You must degrade. I am not here for mass consumption. I am no more than a fetish. I see myself nowhere. I see myself everywhere. I am never where I want because I am never wanted.
He defines me as he picks and chooses. His hands love my soft parts. His paints love the coils in my hair. His eyes love the green in mine. He picks for me. I cannot love what he does not. I want to love the rolls on my back, but they receive no tender thought-out touch. I dream to accept the hair on my face, but it is never mentioned, never recreated in his art. I am accepted in fractions. I wish to be whole. He gives me his love. He cannot give me my own.
This city can be constricting. This creative capital with its artists and models does not see me long enough to care. London does not tell me it loves me. My face does not splatter the tunnels and halls of the tube. I will never be in the repeating videos that children and businessmen alike stare at as they exit the underground. My likeness would garner no second glances. I want to see myself like they are seen.
I want to be his painting. Everything big where it should be, dark where he wants and light where it suits him. I want his blue eyes transfixed over it all, not just the intent but also the product. He can’t help but touch it all. He wants me. He wants me despite me. He wants me because of me. Everything about me means so much, and it means nothing.
I want to want me. I want to want me like I want no other. I want to want me like I want all others.
I want me.
About the author:
Kylie Rollé is an MA student at University College London studying International Comparative Education. She spends most of her time working in one of the smallest Lush shops in London, reading dozens of PISA studies, and writing poems in the margins of OECD reports.
Photograph © Stròlic Furlàn – Davide Gabino